Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Wheelie bins

There is a fellow blogger who shall not be named that seems to be having a problem with wheelie bins. Well, not really wheelie bins themselves but employees of a company that manufactures wheelie bins. For some reason these employees of the wheelie bin manufacturer are out to search the web for sites that mention wheelie bins in the hope of somehow obtaining information on their company or other employees at their wheelie bin company. (well, did I say wheelie bins enough to get Google to put me on their wheelie bin search list?)

So I thought I would join in the effort to flood the blog-o-sphere with wheelie bin posts in the hope of confusing all employees of wheelie bin manufacturers who search Google for wheelie bin postings.

Our daughter lives in Portland, and there all residents are required to use wheelie bins supplied by the rubbish company that has the contract for trash pickup. She has three, one for trash, one for greens and one for recyclables such as paper, aluminum and glass. Unfortunately the city is trying to force recycling; Portland is well known as a modern productive city that believes in such things; and thus the wheelie bins are rather small. They are picked up weekly, and our daughter and family have no problem in confining their weekly trash to one bin. They do not subscribe to a newspaper, and do not drink much so the recyclables bin is usually fairly empty. They do have a yard, and in Portland, with all the rain, things grow very well, so the greens bin does tend to get filled up. The problem they have though is in home improvement.

They have been in their house since May, and are trying to make it a better place that fits their lifestyle. This means a different place that what the previous tenant had in mind. This requires modification of the house and garage, which sometimes entails the removal of walls and other hard items as well as the installation of new walls and things. The result of removal and insertion is some amount of construction rubbish. The only place to put this rubbish is the one small trash bin, which is already filled with their house trash. This means that they must cut this rubbish into small pieces and keep a pile in the back yard and then slowly put it into the empty space in their bin prior to each week’s pickup. This they have been doing for the past several months, with not much of a diminution of the total pile. Yes, they could request a large construction dumpster and put their pile into it, but unfortunately their pile only requires about a fifth of a dumpster, which would have to sit in the street in front of their house for three days. I say unfortunately because you pay a base dumpster fee, plus the trash is weighed and you pay a per pound fee. As they have seen, any dumpster left on the street will be used by other homeowners wishing to get rid of their old refrigerators, mattresses, and their construction debris. This means that our daughter would end up paying a lot of money in order to dispose of other people’s trash. A full dumpster with disposal fees costs over $1,000, depending on weight. This seems rather excessive, as the total costs of their remodeling effort is less than this, thus resulting in the disposal fees being several times higher than the construction costs. Plus, there are some additional yard modifications that they wish to do as well.

I understand the desire of large cities to reduce their trash, what with an increase in population resulting in an increase in trash, with no corresponding effort made to increase the landfills into which this trash is placed. The city refuses to permit her to get additional wheelie bins for her trash, stating that a house of the size she is in only rates one bin, and her family should reduce their outgo in order to meet what is specified.

Down in San Diego we had to convert from normal trash pickup to wheelie bin pickup several years before we moved. Each family was given one large bin for trash and a smaller one for recyclables, and labels to put on the old bins to mark them as greens only. The trash company reduced their truck staff from two individuals, one to drive and one to toss, down to one, who drove and then directed an arm out of the side of the truck to pick up the wheelie bins. In concept this was nice, but it did not result in a decrease in our monthly trash fees. The result was a decrease in services. Where before we could put anything out on the curb and it would be picked up we now were restricted to what fit into the one bin we were given. This meant that if you purchased a new mattress there was no one to take away the old mattress. If you purchased new furniture or appliances you could no longer put the old ones out on the curb for pickup. We were also told that since it was a mechanical arm that picked up the bin instead of a person we could fill it up and not worry about the weight, which might cause a person to injure themselves while the arm could handle quite a lot. This worked for about the first year, then the trash company started adjusting the controls on the arm, so that it no longer lifted heavy bins. This weight adjustment was reduced each year, until we eventually were finding our wheelie bins at the end of the pickup day still full, but with notices attached that said they were too heavy. Well, if you are putting your trash into the bin and it is too heavy there is no other place to remove some of it in order to reduce the weight. Fortunately the owner of the house next door was older and alone, and thus had very little trash in his bin and he permitted us to put some of ours in with his, thus reducing our wheelie bin weight down to what the adjusted arm said was acceptable. However, this did not provide any recourse to the removal of trash that was too big to fit inside the wheelie bin. Fortunately we had an old pickup truck, and thus could fill that up and drive to the dump (sorry, the sanitary landfill) directly and dispose of the items.

Well, the trash hauler for Las Vegas is now trying to convert to wheelie bin receptacles, saying of course that it is for our benefit. But, as in San Diego, they would reduce the truck staff from two to one, and no longer pick up large items curbside. And I am sure they would eventually start adjusting that pickup arm until it barely lifted an empty wheelie bin, much less one filled. As we no longer have our old pickup truck we would not have any way to haul away our larger items. We did have the truck, but recently sold it, and did drive some stuff up to the landfill, but that is about a forty mile drive up to the canyon that is being used. Many people are in support of the trash company’s efforts to move to the wheelie bins, buying the line that it will reduce labor costs and thus keep them from increasing rates. However, many of us that have lived through such a conversion have no faith in the corporate line and just feel that rates will continue to increase while service will decrease, thus are opposed to the great wheelie bin conversion effort.

One of the reasons given for conversion is that it would be easier to recycle. Right now we have four square plastic bins, one for paper, one for glass and one for metals. The trash company proposes one wheelie bin for everything so that we would not have to sort, and a weekly pickup of this instead of the once every two week pickup that we have now. However, with larger wheelie bins being provided they would reduce our twice a week trash pickup down to once a week. Well, most houses in Las Vegas do not have a large garage in which to keep a large wheelie bin in addition to a car. Many houses are in areas with homeowner associations, which have rules requiring all trash containers be kept out of sight, either in a garage or behind a back yard fence. Since land costs are so high most newer homes are on lots that extend only a meter beyond the house to the property line on the side, and about three meters to the rear. This means the wheelie bins would be kept in the back yard, consuming a part of the small area available, and being visible. Now smaller plastic containers are used, that fit on the sides of the houses. Plus, reducing pickup to once a week would probably result in the increase in trash odor, as putting items into bins in the summer, when temperatures normally go over 110f (43c), and keeping it there for a week in the enclosed wheelie bin would result in some rather dramatic odors.

So, there are our wheelie bin stories. Are these of any interest to the employees of wheelie bin companies? I’m not sure, but if you are a wheelie bin employee and you have arrived here from a Google search of wheelie bin stories, please leave a comment and let me know.

1 comment:

grac miller said...

I really helpful to be here letting me knowing about wheelie bins.That's great info for all who don't know about wheelie bins.

wheelie bins melbourne